Introduction Erector spinae plane blocks have become popular for thoracic surgery. Despite a theoretically favorable safety profile, intercostal spread occurs and systemic toxicity is possible. Pharmacokinetic data are needed to guide safe dosing.
Methods Fifteen patients undergoing thoracic surgery received continuous erector spinae plane blocks with ropivacaine 150 mg followed by subsequent boluses of 40 mg every 6 hours and infusion of 2 mg/hour. Arterial blood samples were obtained over 12 hours and analyzed using non-linear mixed effects modeling, which allowed for conducting simulations of clinically relevant dosing scenarios. The primary outcome was the Cmax of ropivacaine in erector spinae plane blocks.
Results The mean age was 66 years, mean weight was 77.5 kg, and mean ideal body weight was 60 kg. The mean Cmax was 2.5 ±1.1 mg/L, which occurred at a median time of 10 (7–47) min after initial injection. Five patients developed potentially toxic ropivacaine levels but did not experience neurological symptoms. Another patient reported transient neurological toxicity symptoms. Our data suggested that using a maximum ropivacaine dose of 2.5 mg/kg based on ideal body weight would have prevented all toxicity events. Simulation predicted that reducing the initial dose to 75 mg with the same subsequent intermittent bolus dosing would decrease the risk of toxic levels to <1%.
Conclusion Local anesthetic systemic toxicity can occur with erector spinae plane blocks and administration of large, fixed doses of ropivacaine should be avoided, especially in patients with low ideal body weights. Weight-based ropivacaine dosing could reduce toxicity risk.
Trial registration number NCT04807504; clinicaltrials.gov.
- Anesthesia, Local
- Acute Pain
- Nerve Block
Data availability statement
Data are available upon reasonable request. De-identified data will be shared upon reasonable request and with sufficient time.
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Contributors ESS helped design the study, enroll patients, collect data, analyze data, and write the manuscript. EL helped design the study, analyze data, and write the manuscript. AAA helped design the study, analyze data, and write the manuscript. SS helped design the study, analyze data, and write the manuscript. AG helped design the study, analyze data, and write the manuscript. SDW, DM, RRS, ABR, and JLZ helped enroll patients, collect data, and write the manuscript. GK helped analyze samples and write the manuscript. AR helped analyze samples and write the manuscript. JLB helped design the study, enroll patients, and write the manuscript. ERV helped with the study concept, helped design the study, and write the manuscript. ESS is the author responsible for all content and is the guarantor.
Competing interests Viscusi was consultant or received funding from Heron, Esteve, Innacoll, and Salix.All others have no conflicts of interest.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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